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Kandiyohi County criminals to pay higher fees

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WILLMAR -- Starting May 1 crime will cost more in Kandiyohi County.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners has agreed to start charging additional fees to adults going through the court system.

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The fees will apply to such things as pretrial supervision, domestic abuse evaluations, anger management classes and for transferring cases from state to state or county to county.

Those needing intensive supervision during probation, including people charged with a felony, domestic abuse and predatory sex offenders, will also pay higher fees.

Deb West, Kandiyohi County Corrections supervisor, said the additional revenue will help make up for more than five years of reduced or flat state funding for community corrections programs.

"We haven't seen an increase in a number of years," West told the County Board of Commissioners during its meeting this week.

For example, in the past the state reimbursed counties $125 for domestic abuse evaluations. That reimbursement ended long ago, but the counties are still required to provide the service. Starting May 1, participants will now be required to pay a new $75 fee.

Those previous reductions in state subsidies, and a new legislative proposal to cut 8.5 percent from community corrections programs in counties, could jeopardize valuable programs, West said.

County taxpayers have been picking up the financial slack in state funding in the past. It's hoped that charging more fees to the people who use the services could generate enough revenue to offset those state reductions.

The commissioners agreed and approved West's request to start charging new fees for services provided when people are on probation, effective May 1.

Based on current numbers, the new fees could generate about $17,715 in new revenue each year if 100 percent of the fees are collected.

Typically, collecting 80 to 90 percent of these types of fees is excellent, said County Administrator Larry Kleindl.

The decision to seek approval for new fees for people on probation didn't come easy for West's staff and executive board of directors.

Finding new revenue "falls on the backs of people that are hurting," said West in a later interview. "You kind of feel for them."

Many people in the court system are unemployed, mentally ill, chemically dependent, disabled or working at minimum-wage jobs while trying to support families, West said. It's sad when charging more fees to these people is the "only way you can find revenue."

As of May 1, adults in probation in Kandiyohi County will be charged new fees for services.

- $30 a month for pretrial supervision

- $100 for outgoing interstate cases

- $50 for outgoing intrastate cases

- $75 for domestic abuse evaluations

- $30 for anger management classes

- $60 for cognitive skills classes

- $250 for intensive supervision for felonies, predatory sex offenders and domestic abuse offenders (up from the $225 fee currently charged)

The current $175 fee for gross misdemeanors and $150 fee for misdemeanors will remain unchanged.

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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